Men's Golf Invitational

LSU men's golf sophomore Connor Gaunt hits the ball out of the bunker Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 during the LSU Invitational hosted at the University Club on Memorial Tower Drive in Baton Rouge, La.

After a drought of 709 days, it is raining on the men’s golf team. But, they are back in the winner’s circle after dominating the field on Tuesday at the Jim Rivers Collegiate, hosted by neighboring Louisiana Tech. Last week the team brought home silver, this week gold. 

Last year the men’s golf team struggled with configuring a playable roster of five consistent players and only stood on the podium once (Tiger Invitation, Mar. 17 T3). This year the team seems to have found a rhythm. On Tuesday, the team posted the seventh-lowest tournament score in program history, 23-under-par. What (or who) is responsible for the newfound success?

Cohen Trolio has arrived. 

This should not come as a surprise. World Amateur Golf Rankings list Trolio as no. 176. He is the answer to Coach Chuck Winstead’s lack of depth question from last season. He has cruised into a starting position on the team and has proven his worth for the second consecutive week. This past summer, Trolio finished Runner Up at the U.S. Junior Am. in North Carolina. Then, he hoisted the most coveted trophy in Mississippi after his 19-under-par at the Mississippi State Am, which earned him an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Invitational in Sept. Yes, the true freshman will compete for a $7 million purse against professional golfers whose ages range from early 20s to mid-50s.

In his second-ever collegiate tournament, he has broken the LSU record for most birdies in one tournament, 16. Additionally, he set his new best collegiate round at 5-under-par twice (rounds 1 and 2). He is the truth. 

Junior Michael Sanders called heat-check. 

Last weekend at the Turning Point Intercollegiate, the junior shot the lowest score of his collegiate career and the sixth-lowest round in LSU history. He shared the individual medalist honors with Jack Parker of Missouri with a score of 9-under, 207 for the tournament. This week he shot a 5-under-par, 211, and finished tied for seventh. The native of North Carolina found his pathway to success this week on the Par-4’s, on which he averaged 3.93 strokes, scoring at 2-under. 

Sanders was not a frequent flyer on the travel squad last year, but it would be fair to say he is in the driver’s seat two weeks in. 

Every score is worth counting. 

Forewarning, the event was hosted by Louisiana Tech at Squire Creek in Choudrant, La., which is roughly 170 miles away from campus and several squad members have course knowledge there. Albeit the Tigers stepped up this week, all sub-par posting scores, including Drew Doyle, who played individually and scored, did not contribute. Perhaps the winning formula was Tour professional and LSU alum Sam Burns lending inspiration as he spoke to the team before round 1. 

Coming off the fresh win, Coach Winstead still had the loss last week looming in the back of his thoughts.

“I’m proud of how our team responded today,” said Winstead. “We were in position to win last week and backed up. It was good to see our guys not only play well but pull away down the stretch. We’ve got a talented group. We can use this experience and continue to improve as we go forward.”

Examining the teams’ stats from the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate, the Purple and Gold owned the tournament in many aspects. The squad averaged the lowest score on par-4s and 5s, recorded the most birdies of the field, 67, and each player placed in the top 21. 

Coming up for the Tigers is the Scenic City Collegiate in Tennessee which will be the last tournament for the Tigers before SEC match play begins in early October. Trolio’s PGA debut will fall in between the two, in Jackson, Miss. on Sept. 27. 

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